Top 10 antidepressants for anxiety and panic attacks

Antidepressants for anxiety and panic attacks: Depression is a mental state that starts most often early in adulthood. It is also more common in females. However, any person at any age may deal with this mental problem. It affects your brain, so medication that works in your brain may benefit your health. Some common antidepressants may help reduce the symptoms, but there are many other options available. 

Every medicine used to treat depression works by balancing the chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. These medicines work in different ways to reduce the symptoms of depression. Some common medications for anxiety and panic attacks fall into drugs classes, including:

  • SSRIs and SNRIs
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • dopamine reuptake blockers
  • noradrenergic antagonists

An antidepressant that does not fall into the class mentioned above of drugs and natural supplements, including St. John’s wort, is also available. Please continue reading to learn more about antidepressants, how this medicine works, and their potential side effects.

Are you confused about choosing the best antidepressants for you? With persistence, you and your health care provider can find one that suits you the best to enjoy life fully again. 

What are antidepressants?

Antidepressants are potent drugs that can help relieve the symptoms of social anxiety, depression, dysthymia, chronic depression, seasonal affective disorder, anxiety and panic attacks, and other conditions. It aims to correct the chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the patient’s brain responsible for the changes in behavior and mood. 

It was first developed in the 1950s and became progressively prescribed in the last 20 years.

About twice as many women use these drugs as men. 

Antidepressants are the popular choice for treating depression. Although it may not cure depression, it can help to reduce the symptoms. The antidepressant you try may work well. But if it does not calm your symptoms or cause adverse side effects, you can try another one.

Neurotransmitters are essential, as it is a communication link between the brain and nerve cells, which is released by one nerve and taken up by other. When these brain chemicals are not taken up by the other nerve that radiates them, this process is called reuptake. These prevalent neurotransmitters are specific to serotonin, norepinephrine, and depression. 

These antidepressants work by inhibiting the reuptake of such neurotransmitters, hence increasing their levels within the brain, such as SSRIs and antidepressants that may affect serotonin levels in the brain. 

What are the different types of Antidepressants for anxiety and panic attacks?

Antidepressants are categorized into five different categories:


These are the commonly recommended antidepressants.

SSRIs are used for treating mood disorders, depression, and possibly ADHD, OCD, menopausal symptoms, chronic neuropathic, anxiety and panic attacks. It raises the level of serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitter in the brain that play an essential role in mood-stabilizing. Some examples of SSRIs are venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine, and duloxetine.

On the other hand, SNRIs are commonly recommended antidepressants. It affects treating symptoms of depression and has very few side effects than other antidepressants. It works by blocking the reuptake or absorption of serotonin in your brain. It makes it easier for your brain cells to receive and send messages that result in a stable and better mood. 

It is called selective as it mainly seems to affect serotonin, not another neurotransmitter. Some examples of SNRIs include escitalopram, citalopram, and paroxetine. 

Tricyclic antidepressants

They are so named as there are three rings in the chemical structure of these drugs. They are commonly used to treat fibromyalgia, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and sometimes also to control chronic pain. Some examples of TCAs include desipramine amitriptyline, doxepin, and imipramine. 

MAO inhibitors

This type of drug was commonly recommended before SSRIs and SNRIs arrived. It helps to inhibit the action of monoamine oxidase, an enzyme of the brain. It helps to break down neurotransmitters, including serotonin. If less serotonin is broken down, there will be more circulating serotonin. It helps stabilize mood and reduces anxiety and panic attacks. 

Some examples of MAO include tranylcypromine, selegiline, and isocarboxazid. 

Noradrenaline and specific serotoninergic antidepressants

It is used to relieve anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and personality disorders. Some examples of NASSAs include mirtazapine and mianserin.

How do antidepressants calm anxiety and panic attacks?

You may have known that antidepressants can also help to treat anxiety and panic attacks. A group of antidepressants known as SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic attacks. These drugs refer to a specific class of medication. 


As the name says, it affects your serotonin, a natural chemical in the brain. It is associated with the regulation of various functions such as mood and is imbalanced in people with anxiety and panic attacks problems. SSRIs focus on serotonin levels by preventing the absorption by nerve cells in the patient’s brain. 

Due to its limited side effects, validated research outcomes, and long-term effectivenessIf you are currently prescribed SSRIs, you may wonder how they can help to benefit you. It helps to reduce symptoms, build skills, or treat co-occurring issues, 

Which antidepressants are SSRIs?

If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you are not alone. According to a report, about one in five adults and one in six youths experience some mental condition every year. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly known as SSRIs, belongs to the family of drugs most frequently used to calm the symptoms of major depressive disorder and other mental health condition. 

SSRI is the first-choice treatment for depression and other mental conditions as it tends to be effective for general people and has very few side effects. The primary way it helps people manage the state of depression is by increasing the serotonin level in the patient’s brain. Having more serotonin in the nerve efficiently transmits the message to the brain. All SSRI antidepressants work similarly. 

Ten different types of antidepressants are:

  1. Zoloft (sertraline)
  2. lexapro (escitalopram)
  3. Paxil and Paxil CR (paroxetine)
  4. Prozac (fluoxetine)
  5. Luvox (fluvoxamine)
  6. Luvox CR (fluvoxamine)
  7. celexa (citalopram)
  8. Rapilflux (fluoxetine)
  9. selfemra (fluoxetine)
  10. pexeva (paroxetine)

SSRIs works by enhancing the nerve cells functions in the brain that helps to regulate emotion. The delivery of the signals does the communication between your brain cells and nerves with chemical messengers. Serotonin is a type of natural neurotransmitter. 

When the brain cells send the signal to one another, it releases a little bit of neurotransmitter so the message can get delivered. It has to take back the neurotransmitter it released to send the following statement. This whole process of replacing the brain chemicals is called reuptake. 

When you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, the brain area that regulates mood and sends messages using the chemical might not function appropriately. SSRIs help to make more serotonin available by blocking the reuptake process. It allows serotonin to build up between neurons, so messages are sent correctly.  

Side effects of SSRIs for anxiety and panic attacks?

Many people who take SSRIs do not experience significant problems, but every medical treatment carries some possible risks. Some possible side effects of SSRI antidepressants for anxiety and panic attacks may include:

  • headache and drowsiness
  • insomnia and dry mouth
  • rash and blurred vision
  • feeling dizzy
  • agitation and nervousness
  • upset stomach, diarrhea, or nausea
  • pain in joints
  • problem in erection
  • reduced sexual desire

Many people, especially children or young adults, may experience suicidal thoughts when taking SSRIs. Some research shows that when compared to results from using a placebo, there is an increase in the chance of sharing suicidal thoughts from 1 percent to 2 percent to 2 percent to 4 percent. If you experience thoughts of hurting yourself while taking these drugs, call for immediate medical help. 

There are also some safety concerns when you take SSRIs. Although it is infrequent, if too much serotonin accumulates, you may develop the problem of serotonin syndrome. It only occurs if two different drugs that increase serotonin are taken together. 

It can also interact with some over-the-counter drugs and prescription medicines, including vitamins and herbal products. Before you start taking SSRIs, ensure that you consult your health care professional about all the drugs and supplements you are currently taking. 

How can I find the best antidepressants?

When you decide on using antidepressants for anxiety and panic attacks, you may get confused about the correct medicine for you. An individual experiences depression a bit differently; there is no one size fits all medication. You can consult your health care provider to find the best, easy-to-take, and effective drugs. Some factors include:

  • Other medications: other antidepressants can also help with other prescription drugs
  • Your health condition: many antidepressants can also negatively affect other aspects of your mental and physical health, so your medical professional will review preexisting conditions and other conditions. 
  • Dosage frequency: This drug works best when you take it regularly as prescribed. If this is difficult, it may be something to talk to your health care provider.

You may have to take drugs for six to eight weeks before you start feeling the full effects, but you can begin to notice benefits within the first two to four weeks. 

Bottom line

When you start treating depression, what works for one person may not be effective for another. So, finding the best one for you can take time. If you start taking drugs for your anxiety and panic attacksit may take some time to determine the therapeutic dose that works best for you.

Please consult your health care provider on how long it should take an antidepressant to work.

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